Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal broke the news this afternoon that Grizzlies’ forward Darrell Arthur tore his right achilles tendon and could miss the entire 2011-12 season. Arthur was already nursing a sore achilles on his other foot, and this news complicates the Memphis roster situation with the season opener less than 10 days away.
This is the second time in Arthur’s young NBA career that the forward has been sidelines by injury. He missed more than four months during the 2009-10 season after undergoing surgery on a torn pectoralis muscle.
The torn achilles is a big blow for the Grizzlies, who came to rely on Arthur as a solid back up to Zach Randolph and a player that brought instant offense and energy off the bench. As Peter Edmiston of Sports 56 WHBQ pointed out on Twitter earlier today, Arthur was the most effective offensive player in the NBA in transition, averaging 1.614 points per possession.
With Arthur gone, the Grizzlies roster will stand at 12. If owner Michael Heisley is dead set on not paying luxury tax as he has indicated, the team will have to sign three cheap big men, carry a roster of 15 and hope one of those bigs shows promise and earns minutes. Potential options for the Grizzlies to bolster the front court:
- Kenyon Martin is rumored to be heading back to the states. It’s been said on Twitter that he and the Chinese team he plays for are both unhappy. Memphis has a mid-level exception it could use to throw some money at Martin, but that’s unlikely because it would put Memphis over the luxury tax threshold.
- Memphis could play Rudy Gay more at the power forward position and play “small ball,” but the Grizzlies don’t have another great small forward on the roster to replace Gay at that position.
- More than likely, the Grizzlies will revisit trading OJ Mayo and getting a deal similar to the proposed Mayo for Rush/McRoberts deal. If Memphis had hindsight, it probably would have made that deal last week.
- Memphis could also look to ship Mayo to Minnesota for Anthony Randolph or perhaps look at some kind of trade of Mayo for Michael Beasley.
- Reality show in Memphis? The Grizzlies may now look to make a push in landing restricted free agent and newly divorced Kris Humphries. Though Humphries may be more known for his former love interested, Kim Kardashian, the power forward has put up solid numbers in a young NBA career. He played his last 108 games with the New Jersey Nets (who have only offered him a one year deal at this point).Last season, he registered the No. 5 offensive rebounding rate in the entire league, and finished No. 2 on the defensive boards. This deal would again put the Grizzlies over the luxury tax threshold, however.
No matter how this plays out, it definitely puts the Grizzlies in a tough spot. Memphis was already thin at the front court, so picking up a quality big and not losing too much production in the process is going to be crucial to a successful season.
Preston McClellan covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him on Twitter @p_mcclellan.